Network Rail tackles the tides in Cumbria

Work is taking place along the Cumbrian coast to protect the railway from the seas which constantly batter the line.

As part of the Great North Rail Project, sections of sea defences between Parton and Harrington on the Cumbrian coastline are being renewed and replaced. This keeps the railway open for important passenger and freight services.

Rock armour, in the form of 20,000 tonnes of quarried stone and boulders, is being placed between the track and the beach to lessen the force of the waves as they hit the shoreline.

Further along the coast in Flimby, ‘sand breakers’ have been installed to prevent a build-up of sand collecting under a railway bridge and blocking access to the beach. The breakers have been designed and installed with tidal and wind patterns in mind, meaning local people can access the shore all year round.

Jim Syddall, works delivery programme director for Network Rail, London North Western route said:  “Network Rail is committed to ensuring the safety and reliability of the country’s railway and this includes protecting it from damage caused by the sea . The work is essential to help ensure the long-term future of this vital coastal line.”

Trudy Harrison MP, said: “These essential maintenance works being carried out by Network Rail along one of the most exposed stretches of the Cumbria Coast Line will help to protect this most vulnerable, but critically important section of the railway.

“Government is investing £61bn in rail, I look forward to new passenger and a more frequent service. These engineering works will ensure we have a track for the trains to run on and a service we can rely on.”

The rock armour sites are next to the Lower Solway Firth, which is one of world’s most important estuary and mudflat habitats. Coastal and wading birds including turnstones, oystercatchers, curlews, gulls and plovers all nest in the area.

Everyone working on the project is given the training they need to identify any wildlife they might come across while they work, so they can record sightings and then report to one of our environmental specialists.

Our in-house ecologists also provide identification checklists and awareness briefings and daily checks of the site during nesting season mean we can keep disturbance to a minimum until birds have fledged.

The work on the coastline forms part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a bigger, better, more reliable railway for passengers.